Can you name your most precious asset?
The one that guarantees you the best chance of happiness? Of skipping through your days, laughing and smiling, light on your feet because you’re so light-hearted?
It’s not your job, personal possessions or car. It’s not even your health or wealth, (although they obviously do affect your happiness, you’re not made of stone).
It’s your attitude.
Or to be more specific – your positive attitude.
A positive attitude is the single biggest asset to hug happiness close to you. That’s because it embodies the growth mindset:
- Optimistic – your attitude thrives on positivity, not negativity, upbeat is how you roll, not downbeat.
- Solution-orientated – you see the challenge, not the problem and know there is always an answer.
- Open-minded – you’re always growing, exploring new ideas and expanding the horizons of your life.
- Fostering strong relationships – you are loyal, loving and supportive in the good times and the bad.
That’s the perfect recipe for greater happiness every time, whatever the situation.
But without that awesomely positive attitude, your happiness will falter and die.
And the most deadly attitude assassins are often those closest to us.
Happiness Assassins Are Close At Hand
It’s ghastly to be surrounded by negative people, isn’t it? And even ghastlier when some of those negative people are family and friends?
You can’t exactly jump up screaming, “Get away from me!” But odds are, not everyone around you shares your positive mindset. Or appreciates it.
Sometimes your ‘nearest’ aren’t necessarily your ‘dearest’.
The cynics and gloom merchants among them seem to have only one goal – to consciously or unconsciously kill your positive attitude …and your happiness with it.
I know all too well because that was how I was raised…
Well-meaning but pessimistic parents who’d been brought up themselves to always see the problem, never the solution. To see life as a prison ground, not a playground. To believe there was little point in trying to be happy, because happiness had nothing to do with life. Who threw cold water over the flames of my enthusiasm because they thought they were being ‘kind’ in saving me from inevitable disillusionment and disappointment.
Such a tragedy that they never saw the sun, only the shadow it cast.
My natural defense mechanism was to escape to the outdoors. Days of sunny fun, grubbing about haphazardly in our overgrown backyard jungle, trying to create a secret haven of colorful beauty. It was my childish way of trying to carve out some positivity in life.
My favorite pastime was climbing the old apple tree and laying like a lion along the thick boughs while watching the animals all around. Unwittingly, I was learning valuable life lessons from my garden companions:
- From the rustling blackbirds turning over every dry leaf in search of a juicy snack, I learned to be too optimistic to believe the negativity around me.
- From the buzzing bees filling their furry trousers with pollen, I learned to be too busy with my own plans to waste time on those who mocked mine.
- And from the endless lines of ants marching determinedly about their business, I learned to be too focused on my dreams to hear the doubters around me.
And you know, as I’ve grown up I’ve become even less tolerant of others spreading their negativity – I find them insufferable, intolerable. It makes my neck swell, my teeth itch and it genuinely makes me nauseous.
Sure, your family and friends may not be aware of the effect their negativity is having, but staying positive in this kind of environment is an enormous drain on your mental and physical well-being. And it’s one that you and your future happiness cannot afford.
The good news is, the one thing 100% under your control is your attitude. Sure, life will blow up in your face sometimes and people close to you are going to belittle your dreams, but how you deal with this in your life is totally up to you.
Here’s what I learned from keeping the no.1 killer of my happiness at bay…
Prepare Your Defenses
Meditation is well documented in helping you start the day positively, but I’ll let you in on a secret – I’ve found a good night’s sleep is one of the best forms of meditation – even the Dalai Lama agrees!
Insufficient sleep leads to irritability, reduces your ability to zone out negativity and adversely impacts your own positive mood. Get enough quality sleep to jumpstart your precious frame of mind before you venture out into a negative world.
People are often split into two camps about affirmations – they either love them or hate them. If they’re your bag, then once out of bed, start with an affirmation that strengthens your positive attitude. For example “I am a rock of positivity and optimism”.
As a change from (or supplement to) meditating, have a Positivity Boosting Morning Routine and start the day with a bang – sing lustily in the shower, listen to upbeat music and dance the day in to release feel-good endorphins.
At breakfast, nourish your attitude as well as your body. Fill up on a diet of positive news or other uplifting input for a healthy, non-toxic start to the day. Use books, quotes, films, and any other motivating sources you can get your hands on. Be inspired and learn from people who are living examples of what a positive attitude can do for your life. Use these to keep you immune to others’ negativity.
As a side note, I’ve found that skipping breakfast entirely can lead to a dip in your positivity later in the day, so try to at least enjoy a few mouthfuls of anything sustaining.
Follow breakfast with a simple mood enhancing bonus – grab a fresh slice of the outdoors with a gentle jog or short walk, two natural mood-boosters in one. Getting up a little earlier will be worth every minute. I feed the horses on the farm I live in and it gives me an enormous sense of well being.
Once back, change your clothes with your attitude in mind. What you wear significantly impacts your psychological mood: choose your best-fitting, most confidence-boosting outfit each morning to step out in. Splash some color into the world by choosing a bright outfit – I love oranges and yellows and they are known as mood-boosting colors.
One thing I also learned is that smells can trigger memories, often unconsciously, so I’m always careful to choose a scent that lifts my mood.
My upbringing taught me that what you allow into your mind is as crucial as what is already in there. Be a cheerful chatterbox around negative friends or family. Start conversations, and be prepared with a couple of happy topics to ensure you set a positive tone and deflect their negativity.
If you find someone has beaten you to it and started off in a downbeat manner, the best approach is to excuse yourself as politely as you can.
If you find you can’t escape a negative conversation, then seize upon a theme and turn it around by telling a positive version based on your own experience.
Criticizing others is one of the quickest ways to destroy a positive culture, even in the most close- knit environments. Avoid talking about anyone behind their back as this will slowly attack your own self-esteem and destroy your positive attitude.
I soon realized growing up that habitual negative words and actions can be indicators of low self-esteem and confidence. Recognize that gloomy friends and family are likely to be struggling in their work and life. Hear their real message, feel empathy and help them turn their mood around with some genuine, kind words.
Sometimes a loved one or close friend can become temporarily caught up in a negative spin. Make them an ally to your positive attitude again by offering help: “Hey, I realize you’re feeling negative about this, but maybe together we could find some positives?”
Another effective method to lure negative people back into the light of positivity is to encourage a culture of sharing positive, inspirational material: books, quotes, wallpapers and upbeat articles – all great mood-boosters.
So sympathize with them if you can and try and bring them round if, and only if, they already seem prepared to open their closed mindset. Otherwise you still need to keep a distance from their negativity, because the reality is, the negative vibe others put out is truly corrosive. You need to limit your interactions with them as much as possible.
If you really can’t avoid them completely, then learn to say no politely to anything that would increase your involvement with them further.
Learn Self Defense
I learned early on to defend my positive attitude with more than words and thoughts – I brought my body into it too.
Use positive, outgoing body language: sit or stand up straight and don’t hold your head in your hands or hug yourself. It’s all too easy to fall into unconsciously mirroring the negative body language of those close to you.
Counter gloomy faces with a smile. Make yourself laugh and refuse to take their doom and gloom seriously. Try escaping for even a short walk or jog with some uplifting music or audio. Moving your body energetically creates positive energy your attitude can feed of.
Stand Your Ground
I’ll be honest, you can’t always afford to be subtle. You’re fighting for your attitude, remember? Sometimes you might need to say it straight “hey, let’s lift the mood here, we didn’t meet up to be gloomy after all, did we?”. Try making light of negative stories by pretending to screw them up and throw them in the waste basket “Whoa, a negative story like that would be better for us all in the trash, right?”
And if all else fails…
Be firm, but kind. Tell those negative nannies and moaning minnies that you’ve taken a positivity pledge and you’re now sworn to optimism and positive chatter only. To further diffuse their negative nonsense, take this a step further and ask for their help in calling you out if you fall into being a gloom-monger. Remember not to get defensive if they do pull you up however.
Put Up A Forcefield Around Your Happiness
Don’t let the attitude assassins kill your happiness.
For them negativity, cynicism and pessimism will always rule their mindset.
Don’t be like them. Instead…
Imagine your positive attitude surrounded by a forcefield.
Imagine your happiness safe inside.
Imagine being immune to the negativity of others, even those close to you.
Use the tips above to beat their negativity and build an all but impregnable fortress around your awesome attitude.
And stay the positive, happy person you are meant to be.
Laura Tong, a former health professional, is on a mission to help you become the most positive, happy version of yourself. Grab her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict). Laura also hosts the Re-write The Rules In Your Life interview series where she shares awesome happiness and positivity tips from experts around the world. Click here to listen free to the latest episodes. Along with her partner, Mark, Laura founded PositivelyHappy.Me to help you live, love and laugh like a kid again, simplify your life and find your smile in hard times.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.